The Kobuntei looms above some of the garden's many plum trees

Ranked among Japan's three finest landscape gardens, Kairakuen (y) is most famous for its over three thousand plum trees. The garden is located in Mito, the capital of Ibaraki Prefecture.

Kairakuen was built relatively recently in 1841 by the local lord Tokugawa Nariaki. Unlike Japan's other two great landscape gardens, Kenrokuen and Korakuen, Kairakuen served not only for the enjoyment of the ruling lord, but was also open to the public. Kairakuen means "park to be enjoyed together".

An extensive plum tree grove makes up a considerable part of Kairakuen

While worth a visit throughout the year, Kairakuen is particularly popular during the plum blossom season, which usually takes place from late February through March. The garden features a forest of 3000 trees of over one hundred different plum tree varieties with white, pink and red blossoms. The Mito Plum Festival (Mito Ume Matsuri) is held annually from mid February through March (February 16 to March 31, 2019).

Besides the plum trees Kairakuen also features a bamboo grove, cedar woods and the Kobuntei, a traditional Japanese style building. Like the whole park, the Kobuntei has always been open to the public and served educational and recreational purposes. A nice view of Kairakuen and nearby Senba Lake can be enjoyed from the building's top floor.

Located next to the park stands Tokiwa Shrine. Founded in 1874, it enshrines the spirits of Tokugawa Mitsukuni and Nariaki, two prominent former local lords.

Tokiwa Shrine

Access

There are several bus lines that connect Mito Station with Kairakuen. Relatively frequent and convenient are the buses by Kanto Tetsudo that leave from the north exit of Mito Station and are bound for Kairakuen bus stop (15 minutes, 250 yen one way, covered by the 1-day bus pass, every 15 minutes).

Alternatively, Kairakuen can be reached from Mito Station in a pleasant 30 minute walk along Senba Lake.

Note that during the peak of the plum festival, some trains on the JR Joban Line stop at the temporarily served Kairakuen Station, which stands just next to the garden.

How to get to and around Mito

Hours and Fees

Kairakuen Main Garden

Hours

6:00 to 19:00 (April to September)
7:00 to 18:00 (October to March)

Closed

No closing days

Admission

300 yen (entrance is free before 9am and for residents of Ibaraki Prefecture outside the plum festival)

Kobuntei Building

Hours

9:00 to 17:00 (until 16:30 from October to March)

Closed

December 29 to 31

Admission

Additional 200 yen